If you thought the parasitic, jawless sea lamprey was scary enough in the water, just imagine having a tiny robotic one inside of you. That's exactly what a research team is trying to create with Cyberplasm, a "multi-cellular biohybrid micro-robot" based on the lamprey that could be used to diagnose diseases while swimming around your bloodstream. Once completed, the robot will be just 1 centimeter long and will have many of the same attributes as the creature it's based on — from an electronic nervous system to artificial muscle cells powered by glucose. Cyberplasm will also have visual receptors so that it can see what's going on around it, as well as a number of sensors designed to respond to different stimuli inside the body.
So why is a tiny robot based on a parasitic fish useful? "Nothing matches a living creature's natural ability to see and smell its environment and therefore to collect data on what's going on around it," explains bioengineer Dr Daniel Frankel from Newcastle University, who's working on the project. Cyberplasm has yet to be built, as researchers are still working on creating its individual components, but the team is confident that the robots will be put to use in the next five years.